As we are exactly half-way through the year, it’s time to start thinking about Christmas… right?
The festive season may be long gone but if you’re hoping to make your first Christmas market trip in 2017 then it’s never too early to start searching for good deals and doing some research. I love visiting the markets in Germany and would recommend them to anyone, particularly if, like me, you’ve always loved the idea of the kind of festive holiday you see on traditional Christmas cards.
Growing up in Texas where we were lucky if the temperature even dropped below freezing, let alone received anything close to resembling snow, I used to think that Christmas in New York City was the most magical way to spend the holidays, but then I went to Germany. Don’t get me wrong, New York at Christmas is just how you’d imagine, it’s like something straight out of a film. The city decorates every street corner, the tree in Rockefeller Plaza is mesmerising, and, if you’re lucky, you even get snow to top it all off. Celebrating Christmas in New York City should be added to everyone’s bucket list, but spending the festive season in Germany should definitely be added as well.
Make sure you visit NYC around the festive season at least once in your life, but for a ‘Christmas card’ experience, head to Germany. (Photographer: Anthony Quintano; Flickr)
German Christmas markets have been popping up in the U.S. quite frequently in the past few years, but there’s nothing like experiencing them in Germany itself. The atmosphere is a dreamy mix of warm, cosy drinks and energetic bands of tubas and trombones blasting away. The stalls lining the streets sell anything from Christmas cookies to scarves, hats and gloves, and while many of them seem to sell the same things, you can’t help but scan each and every one. There are what seems to be hundreds of food stands surrounded by upright tables to stand at and sip your mug of Glühwein. The warm, spicy mulled wine is served in a special glass unique to each city which makes a perfect souvenir; and don’t worry if you take it home at the end of the night — with each glass you purchase, a Pfand, or deposit, means you can keep it or just return the glass at the end of the night and get your money back.
Have a glass of mulled wine to warm you up as you wander around Nuremberg’s Hauptmarkt. (Photographer: Allie_Caulfield; Flickr)
Christmas markets are a huge thing, but none are as big as the Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg. The market is a huge affair, with thousands of stalls packing the Hauptmarkt (main square) in Nuremberg’s old town. Another important attraction of the Christkindlesmarkt is the Christkind. Every year, hundreds of young women audition to become the Christ child, who opens the market with a prologue. The Christkind, dressed in white robes with long curly, blonde hair, even travels to the U.S. to Philadelphia and Baltimore to open their Christmas markets and meet with children. In Nuremberg, there is even a children’s Christmas night, or Kinderweihnacht, complete with a carousel and a small Ferris wheel.
Even though some of these markets can seem large and intimidating from a distance, inside they are full of a comfortable warmth that makes you want to go back again and again. They’re the perfect place to spend time with friends and family, to meet new people and to celebrate the holidays. After spending the last two winters in Germany and its Christmas markets, I can’t imagine a single Christmas without them.
Featured image © Allie_Caulfield